All wet

As SN&R reported last week, Mayor Kevin Johnson is ramping up his new “green initiative” for 2010.

Aside from the inevitably hokey PR campaign that will follow, Bites is stoked the mayor is tackling this. Perhaps K.J. could use his new green cred and his clout to get the city to start following its own water-conservation rules.

We regular folks are only allowed to water our outdoor plants and lawns every other day, and only during the cooler parts of the day, before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m.

But when the temperatures climb, the city routinely cranks up the sprinklers to soak municipal golf courses and other facilities—even when temperatures are in the triple digits, and even when the city is issuing Spare the Water alerts to city residents. It’s a flagrant waste of water and money, and a little insulting, too.

When the city flaunts its own rules, its citizens don’t want to play along. Even Mrs. Bites, who is normally quite civic-minded, gets a little testy about the city’s water hypocrisy.

“F—- that,” she sweetly replied, when Bites recently pointed out that she was spritzing some thirsty flowers on a city-imposed “no-watering” day.

That’s not the only example of eco-double-think to that K.J. will have ferret out if he wants his green initiative to be a success.

For example, the mayor’s naturally been touting the new campaign on his Facebook page. But Bites noted this entry from one less-than-impressed citizen. “How about you stop Nestle from bottling the water in the region with your ‘go green’ initiative. Making water a commodity in Sacramento … doesn’t sound so green if you ask me.”

Good point. In fact, this would be a great time to revisit the whole Nestlé issue. You’ll recall the company set up shop in a south Sacramento industrial park last fall, without any public review, or even an environmental impact report.

Back before he turned green, Mayor Johnson called the arrival of Nestlé in town a “reaffirmation that many firms still see Sacramento as such a desirable location,” and pushed hard for the plant, prompting a small rebellion against the facility among by some local environmentalists and members of the city council.

In fact, a couple days ago, Bites got an e-mail from Nestlé, announcing the company will help sponsor the city’s Concerts in the Park series this summer. “We are pleased to … offer concert goers the option of a healthy beverage to enjoy while listening to Sacramento’s terrific local talent,” says the release.

Sure, why drink city tap water on a hot day when Nestlé can give you city tap water in plastic bottles instead?

Don’t worry, the “healthy beverage” will come in Nestlé’s new Eco-Shape™ bottle, which uses 30 percent less plastic than a normal-shaped bottle. It’s all part of Nestlé’s Good Neighbor Policy, which reads, in part: “The company strives to act responsibly in its business and workforce practices, to be good stewards of the environment and to be a good neighbor in the communities where we live and work.”

It would be a lot more responsible and neighborly of Nestlé to pay a reasonable price for what they take. After all, Nestlé is reselling Sacramento’s public water for at least 1,000 times what the city is charging.

Back in the fall, when the Nestlé controversy was at its height, City Councilman Kevin McCarty and others were calling for a tiered rate structure, with higher rates for corporate water vendors like Nestlé. Lots of other cities do it that way, and Nestlé officials told SN&R they were amenable. Eight months later, no ordinance.

Perhaps our newly minted green mayor can do something about that.